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How to apply for a credit card: the questions you will be asked

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AApplying for a credit card is usually quite easy. But it helps to know what information you need to provide. This way you will know what to expect and can quickly find out if you are approved.

If you apply soon, you will have plenty of company. U.S. consumers submitted 140 million credit card applications in the milder-than-usual pandemic year of 2020 and about 170 million in a normal year, according to a credit card market report. credit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

What questions will I be asked about the application?

You will need to provide a lot of personal information, so be prepared for that.

Why? The card issuer will usually use the information to decide whether to approve you for a credit card. The most obvious step with most credit cards is a credit check, usually with one of the three major credit bureaus. After all, the credit card company is giving you credit. It’s trusting you to pay for whatever you load onto the card. In this way, it’s like applying for a loan.

The exact information may differ from one credit card issuer to another, but in general here’s what you’ll need to provide:

Social Security number

We’ll talk about this one first because it’s the most sensitive information you’ll be asked for. In fact, with most credit card applications, it’s mandatory. It’s allowed and normal, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Your social security number is how the card issuer verifies your identity and verifies your credit history. If you don’t have a social security number, you can instead provide an individual tax identification number, or ITIN, which is similar.

You can safely provide these numbers if you deal directly with the issuer. Legitimate card comparison websites will direct you to the issuer’s site to complete the application.

Nerdy tip: Some specialty cards may not require a social security number. Instead, issuers evaluate your application using different criteria. But these cards are exceptions to the rule.

Income

This question is tricky for some people.

The issuer, by federal law, must take steps to assess whether you are able to repay. And your reported income is also a way for creditors to determine how much credit they should extend. They are often interested in the source of this income, for example whether it comes from a job or from elsewhere.

A common related question is about your employment status, such as whether you are full-time, part-time, self-employed, retired, or a student.

You may still be approved if your income is affected by being retired, unemployed, or a spouse with no income in a household, for example.

Date of Birth

Technically, it is possible to get a credit card once you turn 18. But in most cases you will need to be 21 years old. This is because if you are under 21, you must have independent income or a co-signer in order to be approved.

Security issues

You might be asked something like your mother’s maiden name. Or you may be asked to invent a safe word, such as the name of your favorite animal.

Contact information

Use your legal name. You’ll also typically need a US home mailing address to get a US-issued credit card. A PO box address may not work. And some cards are only available in certain states.

Other contact information may include your email address and phone number, sometimes more specifically a mobile phone number so that the sender can text you. You may also be asked if you are a US citizen.

A promise to tell the truth

Often you must check a box indicating that you are providing accurate information. Lying is not recommended.

Acceptance of terms and conditions

The issuer may make you agree to the fine print, also known as terms and conditions. They include, among other things, information on tariffs and fees. There is often a checkbox.

Authorized users

Many issuers will ask you on the app if you want to add authorized users. You can do this immediately or skip this step and add authorized users later.

Additional questions

Some card types may have more questions or requirements. For example:

Deposit for secure card. If you apply for a secured credit card – a card that requires a cash deposit – you’ll need to provide information on how to pay that deposit, which usually becomes your credit limit. This information is generally intended for a current account or a savings account. For example, you might need your bank account routing number.

Occasionally, the issuer will ask for additional information and ask you to call their customer service phone number.

Questions you won’t be asked

Specific debts. An issuer will likely consider your debt-to-equity ratio, but you won’t be expected to provide a list of every debt or creditor you have. However, some may ask you whether you rent or own your home and specifically about your monthly rent or mortgage payment.

Demographic Information. The apps don’t ask about gender, religion, race, or other information that they can’t use to make an approval decision.

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